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Poway enters fifth day of boil water advisory

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POWAY, Calif. -- All restaurants in the city of Poway have been closed and residents have been advised to boil their tap water before drinking it or using it for cooking because of a compromised water system, city officials said.

After recent rains, officials believe the potable drinking water system was compromised, according to the Poway city website.

Crews are working around the clock to restore normal water service, which may take two to five days before the water is declared safe.

"We are taking all of the necessary steps to address this situation," City Manager Chris Hazeltine said. "Restoring normal water service is our top priority."

Schools in Poway will remain open during the water crisis, according to the Poway Unified School District.

"We wanted to reassure our families that we are aware of the city of Poway's boil-water advisory and that we have taken precautions so that our schools located in Poway will remain open on Monday," the district said in a message sent to Poway residents Sunday.

"We are taking the following steps to ensure the safety of our students and staff at these sites: the district will provide bottled water to all affected schools; water fountains at affected schools will be out of service until further notice; any food items requiring water will be prepared off campus at an unaffected site by our food and nutrition department."

On Friday, residents reported a brownish color in their tap water, and Saturday evening an advisory to boil tap water was posted on the website. All local restaurants and food facilities were ordered closed by the San Diego County Department of Health until the issue is resolved.

City staff tested the water at homes where the initial calls came from, within an area that spans from the Green Valley neighborhood to Garden Road. They found the water to be well within standards for chlorine residuals. However, because the discoloration appeared to be citywide, water officials notified the State Water Resources Control Board of the situation and everyone agreed the boil-water advisory was in the best interest as a precautionary measure.

The city of Poway provides water service to about 50,000 residents. This is the first boil-water order issued in the city's history.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, the city notified residents that staff has isolated the area affected by rainwater from the recent storm. "The city is working to resolve the issue," the updated alert said. "New water samples have been sent to the lab and we are waiting results."

Bottled water was being distributed at Lake Poway but supplies were running low. More water supplies were expected to arrive at 9 a.m.

The city set up a pickup location at Lake Poway at 14644 Lake Poway Road. By 8 a.m., the city had handed out more than 900 cases of bottled water. It is taking people an average of 45 minutes to get to the front of the line. Each car receives one case of water.

Boiling water kills bacteria and other organisms. Residents are advised to not drink tap water without boiling it for one minute and letting it cool.

"Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice," the city advised.

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